Title contenders Australia will open their campaign at the Twenty20 world championships against Zimbabwe on Wednesday sweating over injuries to three key players.
All-rounder Shane Watson has a strained hamstring, young batsman Michael Clarke has a lower abdominal strain and opener Matthew Hayden is suffering from back spasms, team officials said.
Captain Ricky Ponting, who delayed his departure for South Africa due to a family illness, is due to arrive here on Monday and will go into the opener at Newlands in Cape Town without any match practice.
Australia have not played competitive cricket since winning their third successive 50-overs-a-side World Cup in the Caribbean in April. They played two practice matches over the weekend, beating New Zealand on Saturday before losing to South Africa by eight wickets on Sunday.
Australia’s new coach Tim Nielsen said the players were slowly getting into the groove and should be well-prepared for Wednesday’s match. “It’s normal early season stuff at the moment,” Nielsen told Australian journalists here. “The fact that we have had some competitive hit-outs have been beneficial from a skill point of view, but physically at the moment it’s taken a bit of time to get up and going.”
Hayden suffered back spasms during the warm-up match against New Zealand but was fit enough to bat down the order against the South Africans on Sunday. “He’d been flat on his back overnight,” said Nielsen, “Alex Kountouris (the team physio) had done a great job to get him up and going.”
Nielsen was however, unsure if Clarke would play against Zimbabwe after missing both practice matches. “He’s getting better, all the signs are that he’s improving, and again it’s just a management thing and seeing how he goes,” Nielsen said of the middle-order batsman.
“We’re hopeful he’ll be playing during the week, whether it’s Wednesday or Friday (against England).” Australia are drawn in group B of the preliminary league with England and Zimbabwe. The top two teams will advance to the next round.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Wednesday, September 12th, 2007 and is filed under General, Cricket.
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